Guest blog post by Julie Labrie
Many HR thought-leaders are predicting that talent retention will be one of the greatest upcoming challenges for professionals in the people management field. Fierce competition, the norm of changing careers multiple times, and talent shortages in niche areas all contribute to this landscape. Putting strategies in place to motivate top performers to stay may be the difference between success and failure for a company.
As a recruiter, I serve as the go-between employers and job seekers, and I am often privy to the real reason why employees leave their jobs. So, here are the top five reasons why people leave, and what companies can do to proactively motivate them to stay:
1. They are not motivated by the job. If high-functioning employees are bored by their job, if they think they have learned everything they feel they can, and don’t see room for advancement, they will stray for greener pastures. Hiring managers sometimes make the mistake of looking for potential employees who have “been there, and done that” in relation to the position they are trying to fill. But if a prospective employee already knows the job like the back of his or her hand, boredom may be imminent. It’s important to have some elements of a position that an employee can aspire to, so they can keep learning on the job.
2. Employees are disengaged from the company’s business objectives. Employees who understand and support a business’ core objectives will develop a vested interest in company goals. They will want to contribute to its success. A workforce that is not privy to the bigger picture won’t understand how their contributions fit in and won’t have the reason to care. Share your “Point A to Point B plans” with the broader team to get everyone on board. Solicit feedback so employees know they are being heard too. Management need not relinquish decision-making control. But sometimes a fresh set of eyes can bring about new insights to business-building endeavors.
3. Manager-employee relations are a “top down” one-way street. Sometimes top performers are promoted and then abruptly tasked with managing a full team’s performance without proper “people management” training. Being a good task-oriented performer doesn’t automatically equal a good people manager. The skills required for each role are quite different. Management-employee relations must be a two-way street. In addition to creating a growth track for high potential contributors, successful companies foster an open and honest culture where employee feedback on a manager’s working style is considered just as important as traditional top-down feedback.
4. An employees’ future growth with the company is undefined. To keep your best employees, have formal career pathing, and subsequent succession planning built into regular job performance reviews. Each employee should have a clear, measureable growth plan that they chart out together with their manager. Take inventory of current skills, and have a list of skills to be acquired, alongside a timeline to follow progress. Some managers want to retain their star employee – not for the company, but for themselves, limiting growth. That mistake can prompt the best talent to leave.
5. The company lacks performance recognition. We all like to hear we’ve done a good job and that show of appreciation need not be grand. Even small gestures can make people feel like they valued at a company, such as employee birthday celebrations, anniversary cards acknowledging tenure, or letting someone leave early to show appreciation for a job well done. While impromptu “thank you’s” are often a nice surprise, structuring a formal recognition process can give companies an advantage to ensure corporate values are being practiced consistently. Today, online programs can even allow employees choose the rewards they prefer, or recognize their peers for great performance.
In reality, work-life balance is now an outdated concept. Work-life integration on the other hand has become the new buzzword. The most productive employees are passionate about their job, whether they focus on their work only during business hours, or whether they work and play at the office, and then work and play at home too. Show them how they can personally grow through their job, and show them you appreciate their work – then watch your retention numbers soar.
Julie Labrie is the President of BlueSky Personnel Solutions. After 14 years of recruiting top talent, she is a veteran in her field. Fluent in both English and French, Julie offers expertise in a number of recruitment areas including bilingual placements. She works closely with both business/HR executives and job candidates, and can offer insights into the strategies, nuances and psychology of the hiring process. Julie is part of a panel of leading HR experts for the Globe and Mail where she regularly offers her insights and expertise, and a regular contributor to Workopolis. Read about insights into the strategy and psychology of the hiring process on BlueSky’s HR blog.